The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox

( 15 )

Overview

   The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. The Fatal Gift of Beauty is award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the...
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The Fatal Gift of Beauty: An American Girl and a Murder in Italy

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Overview

   The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. The Fatal Gift of Beauty is award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the murder, the controversial prosecution, the conviction and twenty-six-year sentence of Knox, the machinations of Italian justice, and the underground depravity and clash of cultures in one of central -Italy’s most beloved cities.

      When Perugia authorities concluded that the murder was part of a dark, twisted rite—a “sex game”—led by the American with an uncanny resemblance to Perugia’s Madonna, they unleashed a media frenzy from Rome to London to New York and Seattle. The story drew an international cult obsessed with “Foxy Knoxy,” a pretty honor student on a junior year abroad, who either woke up one morning into a nightmare of superstition and misogyny—the dark side of Italy—or participated in something unspeakable.

      The investigation begins in the old stone cottage overlooking bucolic olive groves where Kercher’s body was found in her locked bedroom. It winds through the shadowy, arched alleys of Perugia, a city of art that is also a magnet for tens of thousands of students who frequent its bars, clubs, and drug bazaar on the steps of the Duomo. It climaxes in an up-close account of Italy’s dysfunctional legal system, as the trial slowly unfolds at the town’s Tribunale, and the prosecution’s thunderous final appeal to God before the quivering girl defendant resembles a scene from the Inquisition. 

      To reveal what actually happened on that terrible night after Halloween, Nina Burleigh lived in Perugia, attended the trial, and corresponded with the incarcerated defendants. She also delved deeply into the history, secrets, and customs of Perugia, renowned equally for its Etruscan tunnels, early Christian art, medieval sorcerers, and pagan roots.

     A New York Times bestseller, The Fatal Gift of Beauty is the thoughtful, compelling examination of an enduring mystery, an ancient, storied place, and a disquieting facet of Italian culture: an obsession with female eroticism. By including the real story of Rudy Guede, it is also an acute window into the minds and personalities of the accused killers and of the conservative Italian magistrate striving to make sense of an inexplicable act of evil. But at its core is an indelible portrait of Amanda Knox, the strangely childlike, enigmatic beauty, whose photogenic face became the focal point of international speculation about the shadow side of youth and freedom.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clear-eyed, sweeping, honest and tough, Nina Burleigh's autopsy of one of the most compelling criminal dramas of our time sets a standard that any of the other other chroniclers of this tale have yet to meet. The story of Amanda Knox is part Salem witch trial, part cultural misunderstanding of an epic sort, and part vendetta. Burleigh found the universal elements of a junior year abroad that shook the world, and she brings them home without sentimentality nor an axe to grind. This is what long-form narrative journalism is all about." --Tim Egan, author of The Worst Hard Time

"THE FATAL GIFT OF BEAUTY is the real, the true, and the complete story of the Amanda Knox case. It will draw you into a nightmare world of murder, conspiracy, corruption, false accusations, police incompetence, abuse, lies, and manipulations. Nina Burleigh is a first-rate journalist who presents a meticulously researched and reported account, with every fact documented and sourced. It is an essential read for anyone interested in this case. More than a murder story, is a look into the dark and complex soul of Italy itself."--Douglas Preston, co-author of The Monster of Florence

"Finally, the twisted tale of Amanda Knox, the all-American college girl convicted of murder in Italy, gets the telling this extraordinary story deserves. Nina Burleigh's immersion in Italian cultural history provides a context that allows us--first the first time--to understand how this international miscarriage of justice could have occurred. Stirring, compelling, and in the end a tragic tale worthy of Italian opera." --Joe McGinniss, author of Fatal Vision, The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro and The Rogue

"The global media, in its frenzied coverage of the sensational Amanda Knox murder trial, overlooked what Nina Burleigh has skillfully unearthed and analyzed--a compelling chain of evidence, subtle levels of significance.  Her telling of the tale is clearly the only one that gets it right."--John Berendt, author of The City of Falling Angels and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

“A fascinating book about a beautiful American girl in Italy and how she was prosecuted for a murder she may not have committed. It is also a study in sexism and criminal law--especially in Italy. Horrifyingly readable.”-- Erica Jong

"Nina Burleigh has cut through the confusion of conflicting and often inaccurate news accounts of the Amanda Knox murder case and given us a lucid, fair-minded account of the case. She shows, quite convincingly, that Knox and her co-defendant have been victims of a serious miscarriage of justice. Perhaps more importantly, she explains why, showing the case to be the product of cultural misunderstanding between Italy and the U.S."--Alexander Stille, author of The Sack of Rome

"[In] this powerful example of narrative non-fiction...Burleigh, who parses how the Knox trial was perhaps tainted, still presents a fair and unbiased portrait of a girl adrift in a foreign legal system and a culture rife with preconceptions about young American women." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Burleigh’s propulsive narrative and the many unsettling aspects of the case make this a standout among recent true-crime titles."—Kirkus Reviews

“Journalist/author Burleigh (e.g., Unholy Business) reconstructs a murder case that has proved to be about much more than murder.”—Library Journal

"A fascinating book about a beautiful American girl in Italy and how she was prosecuted for a murder she may not have committed.  It is also a study in sexism and criminal law--especially in Italy. Horrifyingly readable." --Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying

“Savvy true-crime reporting combined with a headline-hogging murder trial.”—Booklist

Publishers Weekly
The 2007 murder of 22-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, captured the world's attention because of the woman eventually convicted of killing her: 20-year-old Seattle native and fellow student Amanda Knox. Burleigh (Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt) examines the intertwined lives of the students and the media circus surrounding the trial in this powerful example of narrative nonfiction. In July 2007, Knox moved into a house shared with Kercher and two older Italian women. On November 2, Kercher was found with her throat slit in her bedroom, and Knox and Raffaele Sollecito—whom she'd started seeing only a few days earlier—were first on the scene. Giuliano Mignini, the notoriously tough Perugian prosecutor, charged them with murder, adding their acquaintance Rudy Guede when evidence placed him at the crime scene. The protracted trial was awash with what Burleigh describes as faulty forensic evidence and testimony that was more rumor than substantiated fact, but Knox was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison; she is appealing her conviction. Burleigh, who parses how the Knox trial was perhaps tainted, still presents a fair and unbiased portrait of a girl adrift in a foreign legal system and a culture rife with preconceptions about young American women, 15 b&w photos; 2 maps. (Aug.)
Library Journal
On November 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a British student at the University of Perugia, was found sexually assaulted and murdered in an apartment she shared with American student Amanda Knox and two other women. Knox, along with boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, was eventually convicted of helping a local named Rudy Guede murder Kercher when she resisted his advances. Amid a firestorm of media coverage, allegations were made that the investigation was botched; counterallegations said that portrayals of Knox as a victim were unwarranted. Here, journalist/author Burleigh (e.g., Unholy Business) reconstructs a murder case that has proved to be about much more than murder. There will be interest.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307588593
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 386,514
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nina Burleigh is the author of Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed, and Forgery in the Holy Land, A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer, and two other books. She has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time and is a contributing editor at Elle. She has resided in France, Italy, and the Middle East and now lives in New York.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae xvii

Timeline xxiii

Prologue Mezzanotte 1

Part 1 Etruscan Gate

1 Cronaca Nera 11

2 Slave 17

3 Seattle 25

4 Perugia 35

Part 2 Piazza

5 American Girl 51

6 Roommates 66

7 The Baron 84

8 The Vortex 100

9 Vendemmia 119

10 Hallowtide 131

Part 3 City of Spires

11 Mignini 145

12 Questura 168

13 La Signora del Gioco 212

Part 4 The Ancient Wall

14 The Dream Teams 225

15 Tribunale 240

16 Capanne 280

Epilogue The Three Faces of Amanda Knox 307

Notes on Sources and Methods 319

Acknowledgments 331

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Keen analysis of the cultures and personalities which clashed in Perugia

    This isn't as much about the crime specifically and all it's details as it is about how the players' cultures and backgrounds came together in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy to, in my opinion, put two innocent people in jail for 4 years. It's about the characters involved- who they were, where they came from, mistakes they made, beliefs which shaped interactions and decisions. Such background and appraisal was exactly what I was looking for. The book is well written, detailed but a quick read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2011

    Read this book! Great author.

    Great, great book: Some thing just don't add up...
    If she killed the girl with her boyfriends kitchen knife why bring it back home yet ditch the keys, cell phones, money, etc. And, how did she get it home without getting DNA and blood anywhere on their clothes, purse, etc? Yet, there was blood on the tip of the knife only? Truly impossible.
    If she did clean the crime scene, how did she remove every single spec of her and her boyfriends dna and or bodily fluids, fingerprints, etc. yet leave all of Guede's DNA, fingerprints, footprints, etc. along with a minute bit of dna on the bra? Astounding.
    How did either of them not get any of Merediths DNA on them or get their DNA under her fingernails, isn't that the first thing CSI checks?
    Why didn't Guede flush the toilet if he was there to have a satanic sex orgy with Amanda and her boyfriend? If they had the frame of mind to wipe down the apartment, and remove all DNA, surely they would have checked the toilet...
    Why go through the trouble, as the prosecutor says, to remove all DNA of themselves with bleach yet leave drops of blood in the sink?
    Why didn't Amanda or her boyfriend have any unusual scratches or bruises anywhere on them?
    why would Amanda and her boyfriend go the the police station at all? Why not head straight to the embassy or immediately get a lawyer? His dad was rich, he could have gotten him a great lawyer if he was guilty.
    Why doesn't the 'murder weapon' match the bloody knife print on the bed?
    Why didn't the prosecutor want the defense to review the DNA evidence?
    Facts and opinions aside, this book was very well written and captivating, couln't put it down.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Overview of the Case!

    I was very excited that I got to read this book. I've been very interested in this particular case. We all know the ending to the story by now but this book was still very interesting nonetheless.

    This book is still a 'true crime' book but Burleigh really delves into so much more than the crime itself. She looks at Perugia and Italy and the factors in those environments that added to the fervor with which this case was watched from the very beginning. This was interesting in some places but in other places, it was hard to get through because it was just so much information and didn't seem to really be adding to the overall understanding of everything that happened.

    Still this book did give a little insight into the various players in this murder case, which helped me to better understand some of the possible motives behind what happened with not only the accused but those for and against the accused.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2014

    Nina Burleigh¿s, The Fatal Gift of Beauty-The Trials of Amanda K

    Nina Burleigh’s, The Fatal Gift of Beauty-The Trials of Amanda Knox, is a down and our incredible read, and for those of you who have made up your minds about Amanda Knox’s guilt or innocence, you need to bow your heads and plead for mercy, this book is an eye opener. Brilliantly written and researched, Nina takes the reader on a startling ride, guiding and winding us through the interwoven fabric of Amanda’a family, friends, and the complex array of her personal demons, passions and fears. Not so fast, for in addition, this book expounds on the personal lives of all the players, from her lover to her prosecutor, from the demonic Rudy Guede to the tragic victim of a viciously brutal murder, Meredith Kercher-- their vices, their biases and their prejudices, and it all happens under the banner of  a glorious Italian country town, Perugia, where the culture is xenophobic, illustrious and historically rich. It matters not that the verdicts are in, by Italian standards anyway, for this is a yarn unfolding, and The Fatal Gift of Beauty rests in the lap of the curious. Take this book to bed, enter a maze of innocence, sophistication, charm, beauty, evil, intelligence, innuendo and circumstance, and when you come out at the other end of this tunnel, you will rethink your trust in foreign justice and the stability of american pride on foreign soil; you will realize that you never knew Amanda Knox at all. A fabulous read by an enormously gifted writer. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    309 pages that could have been said in 150 or less. Perhaps the

    309 pages that could have been said in 150 or less. Perhaps the author was being paid by the word. Went into great detail with many pages of writing about items that weren't relevant to the actual case. Not a good read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    better than I expected

    this book is more about Italy than Amanda, the author doesn't attempt to solve the crime, but analyzes how the historical, social and political context of this case determined the outcome.

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  • Posted September 8, 2011

    Not enough case details

    The author goes into a very indepth history of the town, the house, and the characters. Details of the crime and case are lacking. Too many irrelevant facts and quotes

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very good!

    Very good!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2011

    I do not like its horrible.

    Oh and since you cant rate zero stars that one star means zero stars. It was soooooooooo horrible.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

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    Posted April 7, 2012

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    Posted November 22, 2011

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    Posted September 8, 2011

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    Posted June 1, 2012

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    Posted November 17, 2011

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